The Just Sword

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

The United States was born from clouds of gunpowder smoke and bloody adversity. The revolution was in one way a sparring of ideology but most importantly a literal meeting of armies. Armies of that age, as those of today, were armed with guns and used them in order to defeat one another. The revolution, the crucial struggle for American independence, could not have been won by the colonists if they had lacked firearms. In the early days of the Republic guns were instrumental to the securing of liberty for a new fledgling nation. The need for an armed citizenry was so apparent in the minds of the founders that they enshrined this sacred right as the 2nd amendment of the United States Constitution, the right to bear arms would be minor only to the freedom of expression. In contemporary times the necessity of guns among the citizens has been called into question with some interpreting their presence as nothing but anachronistic and out of touch with modern society. Proponents of this viewpoint have called for “gun control,” prohibition on the selling and wielding of firearms. This view could not be more unsound. It is only the established torpor and blind complacency of the American people which has created the illusion of a golden society without a need to arm themselves in defense of their liberties.

The common perception is that the founding of the United States has roots in an epic meeting of brave, confident men who sought to create an enlightened society of equals. In reality the founders were wary of government, feared centralized federal power and suspected that the entire institution would be toppled in a month’s time by the rise of a tyrant. The founders were so wary of corruptive power that they envisioned a universal militia capable of checking the power of the government. It is this utility that has escaped our consideration in the contemporary age: firearms are needed to destroy the government if it gets out of control, just as the founders expelled the British governorships. The founders rightly believed that if the citizenry was disarmed that the government would act unjustly. This goes to a fundamental revolutionary precept: the government should fear the people, the people should not fear the government; the republican ideal was that the government would serve the public trust, not terrorize it. As Noah Webster succinctly explained in Federalist Paper #46:

Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command; for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.

Ironically Webster was opposed to the arming of the citizenry and favored a strong federal government but in arguing for it he seems to have made a compelling argument against the very thing he wished for. Webster wrote during times in which the people were fiercely protective of their liberty and statesmen truly feared passing unjust or unconstitutional law. George Bush Minor would have surely been hung during the times in which Webster wrote: the people were vigilant of their liberties and did not tolerate the violations of the rule of law we have come to so sycophantically accept today.

A common argument for gun control is that weapons are not needed for self-defense because we have the luxury of competent police. You may call the police when a thief is breaking into your house, but who do you call when the police are? The need of the people to be armed in order to defend their liberties is crucial to the gun control debate. If congress is impotent, if the democratic process is corrupt, if show trials have replace true courts of justice, the people have a duty to restore the Republic to rule of law, and can only accomplish this charge by force of arms. A people without arms are impotent and hold no political power: they are at the mercy of the tyrants who do wield them. All other reasons for the 2nd amendment and right to bear arms pale so far in comparison that they are nearly irrelevant: the founders did not wish us to be armed so that we could hunt or protect ourselves from petty thieves, they expected us to be armed so that if individuals arose to pervert the system of government they had framed, they could be dealt swift justice. George Washington spoke of this topic most eloquently in his address to the 1st Congress:

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people’s liberty teeth (and) keystone… the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable… more than 99% of them [guns] by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference [crime]. When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour.

The reasons originally postulated for the arming of the people still ring true today and perhaps will for eternity. The right to bear arms has an even more immediate implication today as we live in times in which our statesmen have given into corruption and abandoned the ideals of the republic. Violations of the rule of law are rampant and the civil liberties of the people are curtailed further on a daily basis. Fascism has poisoned the well as groupthink compels us not to question a new cult of the leadership lest we be ostracized and branded traitors. Fundamental medieval common law rights such as Habeas Corpus have been abolished by “executive orders” and a climate of sensationalism permeates every level of discourse, replacing rational standards. The feeble and cowardly Congress is ignored by a dictator in all but name during the few moments when they manage to stop stuffing corporate campaign donations into their pockets and pay token respect to their offices. The civil liberties of the people have been restricted, eliminated or marginalized by the Patriot Act, Military Tribunal Act and John Warner National Defense Authorization Act. Pending legislation such as the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act threaten to make illegal imprisonment and/or execution of US citizens for thought crimes a reality. The state of American politics today would have been the worst possible nightmare of the statesmen who founded the country and if they still lived today they would surely be going from bar to bar and calling on men to gather their arms and expel the tyrants which have corrupted a republic once founded on laws.

“Gun control” will be the death warrant of this country in times such as these: If the people are unable to kill tyrants then they will be ruled by them. We lie at a pivotal crossroads in the history of the United States as government is becoming rapidly corrupt and has begun to adopt textbook fascist policies. Soon the people will be forced to make a decision between democracy, republicanism and liberty or fascism. The people’s response will by default be the latter if they lack the arms needed to bring about the former. A study of history reveals that a corrupt government does not surrender the power it steals from the people willingly; instead it must be wrenched free and returned by force. Measures engineered to apparently protect our freedoms in response to a sensationalized threat (terrorism) have actually destroyed them. These freedoms will never be returned to us by those who have taken them. In a healthy republic the people’s representatives would work within the framework of a system guided by checks and balances and procedural process to see to the abolishment of illegal legislation such as the Patriot Act, yet in the state of things our process has been made ineffective by a monstrous executive who rules by whim rather than law and tends to ignore the legislative. When the system itself cannot restore the republic, the people must!

Perhaps in anticipation for a final abolishment of republican government the federal congress was responsible in 1994 for a ban on “assault weapons” in the form of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Having expired in 2006 a new even more restrictive ban is currently being proposed by New York representative Carolyn McCarthy in the form of H.R. 1022 which as its precursor seeks to define the right to bear arms restricted only to within the domains of hunting and personal self-defense. The act reflects a profound ignorance of the implication of the right to bear arms or even more alarmingly a pernicious intrigue designed to disarm the citizenry and make them powerless to resist the fleecing of their rights. What chance would a people armed with bolt action rifles have against a standing army, either foreign or domestic? As horses against panzers our people would be cut down. Instead our people must be able to bear any and all arms in the defense of their liberties, just as the 2nd amendment implies:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The amendment does not say “the right of the people to keep and bear some arms” or “the right of the people to keep and bear sporting and self-defense arms” but instead is intentionally put into a military context. The muskets of the revolution were the “assault rifles” of today and the founders expected the people to be heavily armed for the very reasons we have overviewed. In the future we the people must refuse to ever have our right to bear (any) arms be curtailed or abolished. Once the people are disarmed they have no power, no authority and no political voice: the country is lost to slavery. As always the immortal words of George Mason ensure a proper exit: “To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them.”